Penn State students seeking a baccalaureate degree will have to take at least 45 credits of general education courses during their college careers.
With hundreds of general education offerings at Penn State ranging from scuba diving to witchcraft in the Middle Ages, it can be hard to navigate which classes can inform you on interesting topics while boosting your GPA.
These courses are some fan favorite gen eds that are both easy and interesting.
COMM 150 (Fulfills GA)
“Fight Club,” “The Graduate,” “Lincoln,” “Get Out” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” are just some of the films former COMM 150 students have watched.
Located in the State Theater, COMM 150: The Art of Cinema is the perfect art general education course for film buffs or movie theater enthusiasts.
“If you can brave the short films and Sundance Festival jargon, you’ll have some of the craziest discussions you’ve ever had in a college class,” Zane Gonzalez (junior-journalism) said. “I had Dr. Jordan, and because of him, I haven’t watched a movie the same way.”
ASTRO 7N (Fulfills GA, GN)
Mix astronomy with visual arts and you’ll get ASTRO 7N: The Artistic Universe.
Not only is this course online, but students enrolled in this course learn concepts of astronomy by playing an immersive video game. You read that right — you can get art or natural science credits for playing a space video game on your laptop once a week.
“It was a good break from my other classes,” Emily Binkley (junior-biotechnology) said. “I could complete the assignments and still feel productive because I knew I was doing work — but it just felt like playing a game and relaxing.”
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PSYCH 100 (Fulfills GS)
This introductory psychology course might help you better understand your thoughts and the thoughts of others. PSYCH 100: Introductory Psychology is a social and behavioral science general education course that explores principles of behavior and studies various mental and physiological processes.
“I never got to take psychology in high school, so I took it and I found it so interesting,” Ally Yoder (junior-meteorology) said. “It’s not a ton of work, but you learn so many useful concepts.”
SOC 119 (Fulfills GS, US)
SOC119: Race and Ethnic Relations is one of Penn State’s most well-known classes. SOC 119 consists of nearly 800 students each semester, a live stream to 165 different countries, a partnership with World in Conversation and award-winning sociologist Sam Richards as the professor.
This course explores the complex relationship between race and status in American society and aims to foster open dialogues about issues affecting marginalized communities.
“I liked that the class was a conversation about race relations, something many other professors and students alike avoid talking about because it’s too contentious,” Breqlyne Johnson (senior-criminology and philosophy) said. “As a minority on campus, I felt seen in ways I never felt on PSU’s campus.”
GEOSC 10 (Fulfills GN)
GEOSC 10: Geology of the National Parks is an online class that not only teaches students about national parks, but also explores the world of geology and conservation as a whole.
“I liked it because it was about the Earth, which is something I am interested in, and it was honestly super easy,” Kelly Taylor (senior-public relations) said. “It only took me probably 45 minutes to an hour per week.”
ANTH 140 (Fulfills GS, IL, US)
A fan favorite course among Penn State students is one centered around alcohol.
ANTH 140: Anthropology of Alcohol explores the history of alcohol in society and how it has evolved over time. Students leave this class not only more informed on alcohol’s origin, but also with a new perspective on college drinking.
“This class has been my all-time favorite gen ed so far,” Tim Benally (senior-psychology) said. “The content was always super interesting because Dr. French always found a lot of ways to relate it back to us as college students.”
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MATH 34 (Fulfills GQ)
If making important financial decisions isn’t your strong suit, this math course could help change that.
MATH 34: The Mathematics of Money is an easy way to earn quantification credits while gaining valuable life skills. This course provides students with the mathematical background needed to navigate topics like interest, taxes, mortgages and credit cards.
“The curriculum is super straightforward and there is so much help offered in the class,” Aneri Ladhani, a class of 2020 graduate with a degree in telecommunications said. “It taught me valuable lessons and boosted my GPA.”
THEA 100 (Fulfills GA, IL, US)
THEA 100: The Art of Theatre is an arts course exploring theater throughout world history, where students study various texts, scripts and theatrical genres.
Kelly O’Callaghan said she enjoyed sitting in the State Theater and engaging in each class’ varying lessons.
“It was super easy, and I liked it because a lot of the time we had theater students or guests come in and do performances for us,” O’Callaghan (junior-marketing) said. “I loved both my professors, especially Dr. Womack because he’s so funny and you can tell he really cares about what he’s teaching.”
PHIL 14 (Fulfills GH, US)
PHIL 14: Love and Sex explores the historical context of love and sexuality in the Western world, while discussing present day issues in the areas of gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Students in this course analyze concepts such as monogamy, consent and pornography with varying perspectives.
Kayla McCauley said she took this class because she’d heard it teaches many interesting concepts you might not otherwise learn.
“The class poses really interesting questions that make you think about today’s standards and stereotypes while also looking at how those have changed throughout the centuries,” McCauley (senior-meteorology) said. “Material for the class starts around the time of Plato, so it is very in-depth, and I definitely learned a lot.”
KINES 72 (Fulfills GHA)
If you’re really looking for an easy general education course that’s a walk in the park — literally — KINES 72: Walking for Fitness is the one for you. Knock your health and wellness credits out of the way by taking a nice stroll around campus.
“Fitness walking was definitely my easiest class,” Cole Ensminger, a class of 2020 graduate with a degree in journalism said. “It was fun walking around campus and being outdoors while also actually working up a good sweat sometimes.”
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SOC 110 (Fulfills GS)
SOC 110: Sociology of Gender is one of the most popular classes at Penn State.
Many students go as far to say it’s one of the best classes they’ve ever had.
Samantha Szewczyk said SOC 110 was enjoyable because every class was an unstructured open discussion. Szewczyk (junior-sociology) said the class focuses primarily on gender and stereotypes, and “dig deeper” into the human psyche.
HDFS 129 (Fulfills GS)
While not an easy class by nature, many students at Penn State have said HDFS 129: Introduction to Human Development and Family Studies has been one of their favorite classes at the university.
According to Molly Countermine, the professor of HDFS 129, the course is designed to “teach you how to be human.”
The class teaches students about a person’s life from infancy all the way to old age. Addie Obrzut (senior-communication sciences and disorders) said the course focuses heavily on class discussion, and Countermine shares personal stories throughout the semester as well.
LING 1 (Fulfills GS, IL, US)
While LING 1: The Study of Language may not have fun trips and unique class activities, students have said it’s a really simple course with content that is actually fun to study.
Throughout the semester, students are able to learn about the content through various interesting videos. The class focuses primarily on the origin of language and how languages work.
Miranda Siegel (senior-biobehavioral health) believes the course is great content to learn for any major.
“I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an easy class that you actually want to go to,” Siegel said.
PHIL 3 (Fulfills GH)
PHIL 3: Ethical Life examines how great philosophical thinkers such as Socrates and Plato believe people can live their best lives.
Throughout the course, students are able to engage in philosophical discussion and are expected to write papers based on the class lectures.
However, Katelyn Evans (junior-health policy administration) described the course as “memorable” as most of the classes were full of fun activities.
RPTM 120 (Fulfills GS, US, IL)
In this online course, students get to learn about leisure throughout modern history.
Students examine their own daily activities by keeping a diary on how much time they dedicate to work and leisure activities.
Lindsey Zimmerman said RPTM 120: Leisure and Human Behavior was her favorite class she’s taken at Penn State for its enlightening material, though Zimmerman (senior-nuclear engineering) originally took the course for an easy pass.
She said her class was even able to take a hiking field trip to Raystown Lake where they spoke with various business owners.
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